• An artist's rendition of the C-130J SOF variant launched at Paris 2017. Credit: Lockheed Martin
    An artist's rendition of the C-130J SOF variant launched at Paris 2017. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Nigel Pittaway | Le Bourget

Lockheed Martin has launched a version of its C-130J Super Hercules family aimed at international Special Forces operations.

The aircraft, known as the C-130J-SOF (Special Operations Forces), is the 10th production variant of the C-130J Super Hercules family and the program was announced at the 2017 Paris International Air Show on Tuesday.


We knew there was interest in the market place


George Schultz, Lockheed Martin’s vice president and general manager (Air Mobility and Maritime Missions) said the aircraft could be optimised for a range of missions, including high/low altitude air drop operations, aerial refuelling, low level infiltration/exfiltration operations, Forward Air Refuelling Point (FARP) capability and armed ISR/close air support.

The cost of the aircraft in baseline configuration would be between US$80 million and $90 million with deliveries available 36 months from order. For this price the aircraft would be provisioned for, but not fitted with, equipment which might include a palletised 30mm sideways firing gun, AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, external tanks, a hose and drogue refuelling system, EO-IR sensor turret and a mission systems pallet.

Improvements to the baseline C-130J Super Hercules include fitting 90 KvA generators to each engine and beefed up electrical distribution systems to cope with the additional power requirements demanded by the mission set and a single Combat Systems Operator (CSO) station on the flight deck.

Additional options include a Directed Infra Red Counter Measures (DIRCM) system, a second CSO station in the cockpit and a Universal Aerial Refuelling System Slipway Installation (UARSSI) to allow the aircraft to be refuelled in flight itself.

The modifications can be retrofitted to existing C-130Js operated by 17 nations around the world and Lockheed Martin anticipates a requirement of between 100 and 200 aircraft over the life of the program.

Tony Frese, vice president of Business Development, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions told ADM at Le Bourget that the C-130J-SOF configuration had been in development before New Zealand’s Future Air Mobility Capability (FAMC) program was announced, but there had been ‘significant’ interest in the variant in the Asia-Pacific region.

“While we haven’t formally talked to New Zealand about this configuration, certainly we’ve talked to them about C-130J,” he said. “We came up with this Special Forces configuration because we knew there was interest in the market place. New Zealand is in the requirements development stage right now and my understanding is they will release a Request For Proposal (RFP) next year.”

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